Effects of burning on germinability of Lehmann lovegrass

  • Published source details Ruyle G.B. & Cox J.R. (1988) Effects of burning on germinability of Lehmann lovegrass. Journal of Range Management, 41, 404-406.


Lehmann lovegrass Eragostis lehmanniana is a drought tolerant bunchgrass native to southern Africa.It was introduced to Arizona (southwest USA) over 50 years ago for erosion control and forage production. Depending on management objectives, it may now be viewed as an undesirable invasive or an important ground cover and forage plant. To inform management (whether to reduce or enhance presence) effect of burn season compared to no burning on germinability of Lehmann lovegrass in the seedbank was investigated on the Santa Rita Experimental Range, southern Arizona.

In January 1984, a 3 ha area of almost 100% lovegrass cover was fenced and divided into 48, 15 x 15 m plots (separated by 2 m wide fire breaks). Treatments (replicated 3 times; applied to different plots in 1985) assigned in a randomized block design were: winter (February), early summer (June), mid-summer (July), and autumn (November) burned (by head fires), plus unburned (control) plots.
Within each plot, five soil samples (approximately 8 x 15 x 2 cm deep) were collected immediately after burning for bioassay, likewise in unburned plots. Soil samples were placed in Styrofoam cups (perforated bottom) over moist sterile sand. Lehmann lovegrass seedlings were counted daily as they emerged for 42 days.
To assess seedling emergence in the field, seedling density was sampled on 1984 unburned and burned plots. Seedlings were counted in 50 (5 x 30 cm) quadrats in each plot in August and December 1984, and May 1985.

Lehmann lovegrass seedling emergence from burned plot bioassay samples (average 342 seedlings/m²) was nearly 40% more than from unburned plots. This increase in fire-associated germinability may be important in its observed ability to re-establish where mature plants are killed by burning.
Significantly more seedlings emerged from samples collected in June (i.e. before the summer rainy season; average 700/m²), being over twice that from any other collection period (February, July and November).
Compared to unburned plots (average 20 seedlings/m²) seedling densities in the field were much higher in burned plots regardless of burn season (February burn 120/m²; June burn 113/m²; July burn 80/m²).
Note: If using or referring to this published study, please read and quote the original paper, this can be viewed at:

Output references
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust